1 January – The strength of the U.S. Armed Forces was 1,421,131 of whom 173,372 were U.S. Marines.
1 January – For the first time since 1989, the American flag was ceremoniously raised along side the Afghanistan national flag as a display of strengthened U.S. and Afghan relations. The 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) participated in the ceremony outside of the recently secured Kandahar International Airport.
9 January – All seven Marine crewmen were killed when their Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Miramar-based KC-130R crashed near a forward operating base at Shamsi, Pakistan. Enemy ground fire was not suspected in the crash. The Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 352 (VMGR-352) Marines were the first to die in the war on terrorism.
10 January – Marines from the 26th MEU (Special Operations Capable) (SOC), along with other U.S. and coalition forces, took defensive positions and returned fire at the Kandahar International Airport after shots were fired near the northern perimeter. The gunfire erupted shortly after a C-17 transport plane carrying 20 detainees en route to Camp X-Ray, Guantanamo Naval Base, Cuba, departed.
10 January – The first recipients of the new Marine Corps Logistic Award for Excellence attended a ceremony at the Navy Annex. The award was established
14 February 2001 and awarded in four areas: Officer Logistician of the Year, Enlisted Logistician of the Year, Civilian Logistician of the Year and Logistics Organization/Unit of the Year.
11 January – Marine Colonel John R. Allen was named Commandant of Midshipmen at the Naval Academy, the first time a Marine has held so senior a post at the 157-year-old institution. Allen, a 1976 Academy graduate and career officer, moved into the second-highest military position at the Academy.
15 January – The first 20 detainees from Afghanistan arrived at Camp X-Ray at Guantanamo Naval Base. Marines from 1st Battalion, 2d Marines provided security along the route to Camp X-Ray to prevent an escape attempt by the prisoners while also providing for the safety of the detainees.
16 January – Lieutenant General Frank Libutti, retired commander of Marine Forces Pacific in Hawaii, was named Deputy Commissioner for Counter-
terrorism by New York Police Department Commissioner Raymond Kelly. Libutti spent 35 years in the Marine Corps, including a combat tour in Vietnam in
1967 and duty as commanding officer of Joint Task Force Provide Relief—the airlift of food to Kenya and Somalia in October 1992.
17 January – The new Marine Corps Combat Utility Uniform featuring the “pixel” camouflage pattern made its debut at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. The new pattern, referred to as the Marine Pattern, is replacing the current utility uniform, which has been in use for over 20 years. By March 2006, these new cammies will be the only authorized utility uniform.
18 January – Marines relinquished control of the largest U.S. base in Afghanistan to the Army’s 101st Airborne Division located at the Kandahar International Airport. Approximately 2000 Marines took control of the airport a month ago, moving up from a base they had established about 70 miles southwest of the city.
20 January – The crash of a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter from Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 361 killed two and wounded five others. The Super Stallion, carrying the San Diego-based Marines that are part of the squadron known as the “Flying Tigers,” went down in the rugged mountains near Kabul while on a resupply mission. A mechanical failure was listed as the cause and has prompted officials to consider changes to the aircraft and to flight and maintenance procedures.
28 January – Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld visited Camp X-Ray and members of Joint Task Force –160 to ease criticism from European allies and human rights groups over treatment and legal status of detainees. He stated that the detainees are considered to be unlawful combatants who are terrorists rather than members of a uniformed army; hence they would not be deemed POW’s according to the Geneva Convention of 1949.
30 January – Representatives Ed Schrock, R-VA, and Susan Davis, D-CA launched a bipartisan effort to create a Navy-Marine Corps Caucus similar to ones already in place for the Army, Air Force, and Coast Guard. The forum will provide opportunity for representatives to learn more of the services’ needs, which may help during budget deliberations. Membership stands at 38 Republicans and 36 Democrats.
31 January – President George W. Bush announced his intention to nominate former astronaut Major General Charles Bolden, Commanding General of the 3d Marine Aircraft Wing in San Diego, as Deputy Administrator for NASA, the agency’s number two job. Bolden was a Marine pilot in Vietnam and went on to be a test pilot before joining NASA in 1980. He left NASA after completing four space shuttle flights and returned to active duty in the Marine Corps in 1994.
6 February – Three Marines were killed at Camp Pendleton, California, when the five-ton truck in which they were riding overturned during a nighttime artillery exercise. Four other Marines and a Navy corpsman were injured.
7 February – Marine helicopter squadrons from Hawaii deployed to the Pacific for the first time in 10 years after 5 years of negotiations between U.S. and Japanese officials for the additional forces. CH-53D squadrons will rotate to MCAS Iwakuni from Kaneohe Bay for the foreseeable future.
7 February – Colonel Rayfel Bachiller, Deputy Commander of Joint Task Force – Olympics, carried the Olympic torch through the streets of Salt Lake City, Utah today. JTF-Olympics was made up of nearly 5,000 service members responsible for providing security support for the Olympic games. The number of service members was increased from the initial 1,500 JTF members originally assigned in January 2001 following the terrorist attacks on September 11.
8 February – The 26th MEU (SOC) completed their back load onto the USS Bataan Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) after completing a historic mission. The 26th MEU (SOC) far extended the perceived operational reach of a deployed amphibious force by conducting combat operations deep into northern Afghanistan. Traditionally, the unit specializes in regions within 200 miles of the world’s coastlines but found themselves successfully operating at distances of 750 miles from the U.S. Navy shipping in the North Arabian Sea during Operation Enduring Freedom.
11 February – Marines from the 4th Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB) (Anti-Terrorism) along with reservists from 3d Battalion, 23d Marines and 4th Reconnaissance Battalion, numbering 300, landed in North Little Rock, Arkansas, to put their training to the test in a Marine Corps Warfighting Lab experiment. Marines in full combat gear used the city of 60,000 for a two-week simulation since military operations in urban terrain (MOUT) is becoming more prevalent in modern warfare.
11 February – After being deployed for six months, Marines of VMGR-352 “Raiders” were the first to return from Afghanistan to MCAS, Miramar, California. The unit had departed Miramar on 27 September—only 16 days after the 11 September attacks at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
14 February – Two Marines were killed and two others injured in a helicopter crash in the Chocolate Mountain Naval Reservation Aerial Gunnery Range near the California-Arizona border. The Marines were assigned to Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 166 out of Camp Pendleton. The UH-1N Huey went down at night with the cause still under investigation.
14 February – The first members of Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 772 arrived at MCAS New River, North Carolina, with nine of its helicopters and the rest of squadron’s 170 personnel expected to arrive 20 February to begin pre-deployment training with the 24th MEU. This is the first time the reserves will help ease the increased demand for heavy-lift helos in Operation Enduring Freedom. It is also unique for reservists to make up an entire component of a MEU’s composite helicopter squadron. To date approximately 4,255 Marine reservists have been activated for Operation Enduring Freedom.
21 February – A $5.7 million contract was awarded to the Bell-Boeing team to put the 19 MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor transports waiting for production into deep storage for as long as four years. Multiple troubles resulted in a new testing schedule for the Osprey and pushed its fielding date back at least two years, which initiated the need for such a deal.
23 February – Today marked the 57th anniversary of the Iwo Jima flag raising. The anniversary was marked with the release of the Marine Corps’ newest advertising campaign “The Climb”. The ad campaign marked several firsts for the Corps’ most visible recruiting message, including using an enlisted Marine as the commercial’s hero for the first time in 30 years. Also, the ad depicted Marines in Marine Combat Uniforms for the first time, as well as highlighting the
diversity of the Marine Corps.
3 March – Marines with the 15th MEU (SOC) returned home to Camp Pendleton with the three ships of the USS Peleliu ARG after being deployed for seven
months. The 15th MEU (SOC) was the first Marine unit on the ground in Afghanistan and established the forward operating base Camp Rhino after capturing an airfield south of Kandahar, 25 November 2001. The feat was particularly unusual for Marines -- an expeditionary and amphibious force -- since the large operating base lay 400 miles from the coast.
7-14 March – The Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV), also known as Joint Venture or HSV-X1, was tested for potential operational and tactical roles within a Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) for the first time during Battle Griffin-02 in Norway. The 313-foot, wave-piercing catamaran was originally built by Incat Australian Pty, Ltd. but later modified by the Navy. Joint Venture is the naval service’s first high speed vessel and has been shared and operated jointly by Navy and Army crews since March 2001.
16 March – The Pacific War Memorial was dedicated at the front gates of Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay, after five years of work. The memorial honors all who served in the Pacific theater of operations during World War II, residents of Hawaii who supported the military personnel, and those currently serving in the armed forces. The memorial is a scaled-down replica of the Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington, Virginia, depicting the Iwo Jima flag raising.
19 March – Two more reservist platoons from Company B, 1st Battalion, 23d Marines arrived at Guantanamo Naval Base to relieve their company mates who were providing installation security since November 2001. The use of reserve units freed up two active-duty Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team (FAST) platoons for other missions.
19 March – Camp Pendleton was named the Marine Corps’ winner of the Commander in Chief’s Annual Award for Installation Excellence for 2002 by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. It is the first time Camp Pendleton has won the award that began in 1984 and the base will receive $200,000 for quality-of-life
21 March – Machine gun tracer rounds fired from four M-1 Abrams tanks sparked a fire shortly after 1 p.m. at Camp Pendleton that charred 2,400 acres
during a live-fire training exercise. The training was being conducted amid a fire danger rating of orange, the second-highest designation, but with the permission of the fire chief. Several area fire stations responded to the blaze and had it contained at around 6 a.m. the following day. No injuries or damages were reported.
24 March – Marine Lieutenant Colonel Gregg A. Sturdevant, Commanding Officer of the 13th MEU (SOC)’s Aviation Combat Element, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 165, was awarded the Bronze Star Medal. He was awarded the medal for “exceptionally meritorious achievement” while serving as the Commanding Officer of Task Force 165, in the Coalition Joint Task Force-Mountain at Bagram, Afghanistan, in direct support of Operation Anaconda. Thirteen other Marines from the unit were also presented awards from the U.S. Army. Six AH-1W Super Cobra pilots were awarded the Air Medal with combat “V” designation and seven Marines received the Army Commendation Medal.
26 March – The 225 Marines of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 251, the “Thunderbolts”, returned to MCAS Beaufort, South Carolina, to cheering friends and family today. The squadron was the first Marine aviation element to launch airstrikes in Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom. They deployed in late September 2001 and spent 135 days flying 700 combat sorties off the USS Theodore Roosevelt in the Arabian Sea with only eight days off.
28 March – Marines attached to Joint Task Force-160 arrived home after nearly three months of playing the lead role in the detainee operations at Guantanamo Naval Base (Gitmo). The bulk of the detachment of nearly 500 Marines had arrived at Gitmo 6 January with the first of the detainees arriving 11 January. The Marines return home comes on the heels of the change of command of Marine BGen Michael R. Lehnert to Army BGen Rick Baccus.
10 April – The 13th MEU (SOC) concluded Exercise Sea Soldier ’02, an intense 12-day unilateral and bilateral live-fire training package with soldiers from the Western Frontier Regiment (WFR) of the Royal Army of Oman, which began 30 March. More than 200 Marines and sailors participated in the realistic training provided by Oman’s “train-as-you-fight” ranges.
11 April – Servicemen and women from past and present came together at Camp Lejeune for a daylong commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Korean War. Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen James L. Jones, and Secretary of the Navy, Gordon R. England, were among the 1,400 in attendance at the
11 April – The Marine Corps Warfighting Lab at Quantico conducted a limited technical assessment on the first complete prototype of Dragon Runner --a small, unmanned ground surveillance vehicle. Dragon Runner, officially the Mobile Ground Sensor system, is a low-lying surveillance system designed to give Marines increased situational awareness in an urban environment.
13 April – About 100 members of the 4th MEB (Anti-Terrorism) returned to Camp Lejeune after helping re-open the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. The four-month deployment combined guard duty with construction work. The embassy had not been occupied since 1989 and the building had fallen into a state of disrepair.
15 April – Six FA-18D Hornets of Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 121 (VMFA (AW)-121), “Green Hornets,” were the first U.S. aircraft to arrive at the coalition air base in Kyrgyzstan, a region that was once part of the Soviet Union. VMFA (AW)-121 participated in missions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
19 April – Michael Moeller, a former Marine Security Guard, was presented with a Prisoner of War Medal 23 years after being taken hostage by Iranian militants. Moeller was a staff sergeant when he headed the security guard detachment at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran where he and 8 other Marines and 44
U.S. civilians were taken captive. The hostages were held for 444 days and released on 20 January 1981. Moeller was
23 April – Tsui Chi Hsii, better known as “Charlie Two Shoes,” was awarded the distinct title of “Honorary Marine” by MajGen John F. Sattler, 2d Marine Division commanding general, at a ceremony at Camp Lejeune. Hsii, a native of Chukechaung, China, befriended the Marines of Love Company who were assigned to protect an air base near his home in 1945 when he was still a little boy. After the Marines were removed from China in 1949, Hsii was imprisoned by the Communists for seven years and spent another 10 years under house arrest for refusing to renounce the United States and the Marine Corps. The Marines of Love Company fulfilled a promise when, in 1983, they helped bring Hsii to the U.S. He became a citizen in 2000.
29 April – Two Marines who earned both the Army and Navy Medals of Honor for extraordinary courage during World War I were memorialized with the dedication of the newest barracks at Quantico, Virginia -- Pruitt Hall and Kelly Hall. Cpl John Henry Pruitt and Pvt John Joseph Kelly of the 6th Marines are among just 19 men to be awarded double Medals of Honor.
_ May – A new physical fitness order (Marine Corps Order 6100.12) was issued by HQMC after being developed by Training and Education Command for the last three years. A stricter weight control program, linking physical fitness test (PFT) performance to the body composition program assignment process, and slightly higher weight limits are part of the new order.
1 May – The Department of Defense announced that service members on active duty on or after 11 September 2001, are eligible to receive the National
Defense Service Medal. The medal may also be awarded to members of the reserve components who are ordered to federal active duty, regardless of duration, except for certain categories. President Dwight D. Eisenhower established the National Defense Service Medal 22 April 1953. It has subsequently been awarded for honorable active service for any period between 27 June 1950 and 27 July 1954, the period between 1 January 1961 and 14 August 1974, and between 2 August 1990 and 30 November 1995.
6 May – More than 2,700 U.S. troops--most of them Marines--finished Exercise Balikatan 2002-2, a two-week combined joint training exercise in the Philippines. The units teamed up with almost 3,000 Philippine troops for live-fire exercises, medical and engineering operations, and jungle-warfare training.
7 May – Captain Michael D. Grice was selected as recipient of the prestigious 2001 Leftwich Trophy for Outstanding Leadership, awarded annually to a captain from a combined-arms field. Capt Grice and his unit were among the first American troops to land on foreign soil following terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001 after landing in East Timor on a humanitarian assistance mission.
8 May – Private First Class Darwin H. Brown was laid to rest in Bernardston, Massachusetts, nearly 60 years after the 18-year-old Marine was killed in the battle of Tarawa, November 1943. Brown’s dog tags, and later his remains and those of another man, were uncovered by local construction workers on what is now Betio Island in the Republic of Kiribati. Laborious forensic and DNA tests established one of the bodies as Brown’s.
9 May – Lieutenant Colonel Kenneth A. Walsh, a World War II Marine Corps fighter ace and Medal of Honor recipient, was posthumously inducted into the Naval Aviation Hall of Honor at Pensacola Naval Air Station, Florida. LtCol Walsh is credited with 21 kills during the war and was awarded the Medal of Honor for taking on numerically superior enemy forces. Three Navy pilots were also inducted into the hall.
14-28 May – The 31st MEU (SOC) participated in the annual training exercise Cobra Gold 2002 in Thailand with Thai Marines. The exercise allowed the Marines to learn from and share tactics with their foreign counterparts while also enhancing security relationships and demonstrating U.S. resolve to support the security and humanitarian interests of Allies in the region.
29 May – For the first time since the 11 December 2000 crash that killed four Marines, the V-22 Osprey resumed flying. The flight marked the beginning of an 18-month developmental flight plan. The Corps wants to buy 360 Ospreys to replace its Vietnam-era fleet of CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters, at a cost of about $68 million each, but faces many months of testing for the problematic aircraft. Failure in the coming months could result in the scraping of the Osprey program.
30 May – The 22d MEU turned a scheduled administration exercise into preparations for a possible noncombatant evacuation operation as tensions mounted between India and Pakistan. Planners considered the possibility that U.S. citizens would need to be evacuated from the two nations if the increased bickering over a long-contested border area lead each nation to consider turning its nuclear weapons on each other.
6 June – More than 4,000 Marines from the 2d Marine Expeditionary Brigade fulfilled the NATO treaty requirements that the U.S. participate in one of its member exercises each year as a show of faith and support as the exercise Dynamic Mix came to a conclusion in Spain. Service members from 13 nations participated in the biannual, three-week exercise, which integrates multinational forces to work together for any real world situation.
14 June – A Marine guard was injured when a car bomb detonated outside of the U.S. Consulate in Karachi, Pakistan. Tensions had been rising between India and Pakistan and prompted the State Department to urge Americans in India to leave the country on 31 May. Eleven Pakistanis were killed in the blast which resulted in the consulate closing until 18 June. A platoon of Marines from the 22d MEU was also dispatched to the consulate to help with security as a result of the attack.
15 June – The 11th MEU departed from Camp Pendleton as part of the Belleau Wood ARG for the Western Pacific and Persian Gulf area as the 13th MEU returned as part of the Bonhomme Richard ARG from the same area two days later. The 11th MEU is the third Pendleton-based MEU to deploy since the war on terrorism began with Marines from the first two seeing combat in Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.
17 June – Marines and Philippine soldiers returned fire after 10 suspected Muslim rebels fired upon them in the southern Philippines where they were guarding a Navy Seabee road-construction site. The firefight on Basilan Island was the first combat American forces had seen in five months of anti-terrorism training. The Marines and soldiers were not injured in the gun battle.
20 June – The seven member crew of the ill-fated KC-130 Hercules that crashed 9 January in Pakistan was faulted in the crash that took their lives according to the investigation report released. The report stated that the crew stopped navigating by instruments and flew too far away from the field at too low of an altitude. None of the crew was found to be negligent or guilty of misconduct.
20-22 June – Marines at and around Camp Lejeune marked the 60th anniversary of the first group of black recruits to begin training at Montford Point, North Carolina, with events throughout the weekend. During WWII, 20,000 African-American men trained at Montford Point, which was renamed Camp Gilbert H. Johnson for the camp’s first black NCO and one of the first sergeants major in the Corps.
21 June – Marine reservists with Company E, 2d Battalion, 25th Marines concluded a ten-day bilateral training exercise with Portuguese Marines. The exercise marked the first time the two groups had trained together in a decade. The reservists had been called to duty shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and had been serving at Camp Lejeune.
22 June – The new Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer Shoup, named in honor of General David M. Shoup, was commissioned in Seattle, Washington. Gen Shoup was the 22d Commandant of the Marine Corps and a WWII Medal of Honor recipient.
28 June – A Marine Corps Security Force Company based in London since 1941 was officially deactivated. Eighty Marines who guarded Navy buildings at Eastcoate, headquarters to U.S. Naval Forces Europe, will head elsewhere. The security-force battalion’s three companies, previously based in Rota, Spain, London, and Naples, Italy, are now based in Rota as part of a reorganization that Marine Forces Europe officials say will allow the Corps to “better support naval installation security requirements” in Europe.
29 June – A section of highway was named in honor of the late Marine hero Gen Roy Stanley Geiger in his native Clay County, Florida. The stretch formally named Clay County Road 220 extends from Fleming Island, Florida, to Middleburg, Florida. Gen Geiger joined the Marine Corps in 1907 and became one of the Corps’ top generals in WWII. He remained active in the service until his death 23 January 1947.
1 July – Recruiting Station Fort Worth, Texas, opened during an assumption of command ceremony. Marine Corps Recruiting Command, Headquarters Marine Corps made the decision to restructure recruiting boundaries in late 2000 to reflect the shift of the U.S. population towards the west. The Dallas/Fort Worth area was split into two recruiting stations due to its population growth.
3 July – The latest version of the UH-1Y utility helicopter made its first flight at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Maryland, to check rotor track and balance and to check out instrumentation. The H-1 update program enhances the Marine Corps’ fleet of combat utility and attack helicopters by remanufacturing UH-1N Hueys and AH-1W Super Cobras to share more common parts and software. This commonality reduces the amount of spare parts required to be on hand and simplifies training for aircrews and maintainers.
4 July – Marines of 1st Battalion, 6th Marines participated in Exercise Cooperation from the Sea with the Russian Marine Support Contingent. Along with a martial arts exhibition by the 4th Marine Regiment detachment, Marines explained the operating capabilities of all weapons used within an infantry unit and broke down the functions of the Marines within each squad. The successful static display took place aboard the USS Fort McHenry and resulted in members from both services looking forward to possible joint training exercises in the future.
5 July – AV-8B Harrier pilots assigned to Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 261 flew their first combat mission over Afghanistan as part of the 22d MEU. The pilots conducted a reconnaissance mission, using the new Litening II targeting pods, which was the first combat mission for the new advanced targeting system. The Harriers launched from the amphibious ship USS Wasp.
5 July – Ted Williams, the baseball legend who served as a Marine pilot in both WWII and the Korean War, died of heart failure in Crystal River, Florida, at the age of 83. He spent 21 years, except for his periods of military service, with the Boston Red Sox after joining the team in 1939. Williams said the two things he was proudest of was being a Marine and being in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
9 July – A reactivation ceremony was held at Camp Lejeune as the 2d Force Reconnaissance Company was firmly placed back under II Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) control for the first time since it slipped away to the 2d Marine Division during reconnaissance restructuring in the 1990s. While the company was under the banner and budget of the 2d Marine Division, the MEF commander had no dedicated reconnaissance assets. With a recon battalion at the division level dedicated to short-range missions, the MEF recon company is free to focus on deep recon and insertions, including snatch-and-grab missions and hostage rescue.
11 July – Reservists from Company G, 2d Battalion, 25th Marines departed for a 30-day peacekeeping assignment in the American sector of Kosovo. It is the largest deployment of Marines to the Serbian province since 1999 when the 26th MEU helped establish order. The Marines were called up early January to help support the war on terrorism and were stationed at Camp Lejeune.
13-19 July – General James L. Jones hosted the leaders of 33 out of the 37 Marine Corps or naval infantry forces worldwide for the first Worldwide Commandant’s Conference. As part of their whirlwind tour of U.S. Marine life, the group saw recruit training at Parris Island, South Carolina, a capabilities exercise at Camp Lejeune, an Osprey flight at Patuxent River Naval Air Station and toured Officer Candidates School at Quantico.
23 July – Three Marines were awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for heroism. LtCol James G. Kyser IV, Maj Matthew Coon, and SSgt Robert Wallace were recognized for their efforts to help rescue others following the 11 September terrorist attacks on the Pentagon. The three braved smoke and fire in order to find and lead others to safety.
25 July – Rim of the Pacific Exercise 2002 came to an official close at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay. More than 5,900 air operations were completed by MCAF and the participating Pacific Rim nations with no major incidents or complications.
26 July – The 4th MEB (AT) became the first regular military unit to ever receive the Department of State Group Superior Honor Award for the hard work and dedication of its Marines and sailors during Operation Enduring Freedom. The award recognized Company L, 4th MEB (AT) for outstanding service while stationed at the American Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan.
__August – The Marine Corps initiated a year-long Analysis of Alternatives to help determine whether to remanufacture the CH-53E heavy-lift Super Stallion
helicopter fleet, modernize key components, buy new, or perform a mixture of all three. Several billions of dollars is expected to be spent in order to keep the Vietnam War-era helicopters flying at least until 2025.
5 August – “The Commandant’s Own” Drum and Bugle Corps and the Silent Drill Platoon performed in Edinburgh, Scotland, as part of the Golden Jubilee celebrating Queen Elizabeth II’s 50th year of rule. The Golden Jubilee performance was part of the 2-24 August Edinburgh Military Tattoo, an annual event that is considered the world’s most prestigious evening military celebration. The request for the presence of the Battle Color Detachment was made two years ago and the Queen was in attendance for the performance.
9 August – The Marine Corps conducted the largest urban-warfare exercise to date as part of the Defense Department experiment Millennium Challenge 2002. More than 1,200 Marines and other troops used about 400 abandoned military housing buildings at the California Logistics Airport in Victorville instead of the two MOUT training facilities at Camp Lejeune and Camp Pendleton. The sheer size of the exercise precluded the use of the pre-existing training fields. Besides offering a larger training area, the vacant housing units allowed troops to break through windows and locked doors to ferret out the enemy, which cannot be done at the Corps’ own MOUT sites.
9 August – MajGen Charles F. Bolden retired after a 34-year career with the Marine Corps. His time in service ranged from combat missions over Vietnam to four space shuttle missions orbiting the Earth. MajGen Bolden turned over command of the 3d Marine Aircraft Wing to MajGen James F. Amos in a ceremony at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California.
14 August – The Commandant of the Marine Corps, the Secretary of the Navy, and the Chief of Naval Operations signed a broad agreement that laid the groundwork for further integrating the Department of the Navy’s fighter and attack aircraft. The memorandum of understanding (MOU) completes a long-term effort to achieve greater combat capability with regard to naval tactical aviation. It also laid the foundation for the tactical aviation memorandum of agreement (MOA) that was signed 21 August and provides more details than the MOU and directs an integration team made up of fleet Navy and Marine Corps personnel to review all aspects and issues of the integration plan.
15 August – Twenty-two Marines were the first to move back into the Pentagon’s outer E Ring offices that were demolished by the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001. The offices of the Counsel to the Commandant of the Marine Corps were rebuilt from the ground up with the construction following the same floor plan as the original 60-year-old design. By the first anniversary, 600 military and civilian personnel are scheduled to be back in their reconstructed offices.
20 August – All of the Department of the Navy’s medium-lift H-46 Sea Knight helicopters were grounded for two days after a crack was found in the bellcrank assembly, a key part of the aircraft’s rotor assembly. A similar crack was found in only one other Sea Knight after two days of inspections but maintainers are now required to check the part after every 15 hours of flight. The helicopter has been grounded twice before for cracks in the bellcrank, once in 1998 and once in 2001.
23 August – The United States Marine Corps Sports Hall of Fame inducted three new members at a ceremony hosted by the Commandant of the Marine Corps. Former Capt Robert B. Mathias, a two-time gold medal winning decathlete; former Cpl Carmen Basilio, two-time division world boxing champion; and former PFC Rodney C. Carew, a Baseball Hall of Fame star were the second set of inductees since the creation of the USMC Sports Hall of Fame in 2001.
26 August – For the third year in a row, the Marine Corps kicked off the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament in New York City. The opening ceremony saluted the heroes of 9/11 and included the display of one of the three Ground Zero American flags by Marines. The 26th MEU took the flag, which is signed by family members of those lost at Ground Zero, with them as they left to fight the war on terror. The flag was eventually raised above the Kandahar Airport in Afghanistan.
28 August – For the first time in recent memory, two of the east coast MEUs traded places stateside rather than on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. The 24th MEU left Camp Lejeune as the 22d MEU returned. Deployments were thrown slightly off kilter since the war in Afghanistan began but were put back on track with the unusual at home tradeoff.
30 August – The Marine Corps decided to keep the M-16A4 as the preferred infantry rifle after nearly two years of testing and re-evaluating. The M-16A4 was found to be more reliable than the lighter, shorter M-4 carbine. The A4 variant has relatively few changes from the M-16A2 rifle used by Marines for decades. The only substantial change is the military rail system added to the upper receiver, which allows the attaching of scopes and night-vision equipment to the weapon. More than 30,000 of the M-16A4s are expected to be fielded around the world.
3 September – The sixth Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, Clinton A. Puckett, died in Suquamish, Washington, at the age of 76. Puckett served thirty years with the Corps and saw action in World War II, Korea (where he earned the Navy Cross), and Vietnam. He became Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps in 1973 and was a proponent of the need for education.
6 September – Lieutenant General Michael Hagee was nominated by President Bush to be the 33rd Commandant of the Marine Corps. The 1968 Naval Academy graduate and Vietnam veteran, who is seen as an advocate for enlisted Marines, was serving as the Commanding General of the I MEF at Camp Pendleton.
11 September – Flags were lowered to half-staff at Marine bases around the world to honor those who fell a year ago in the terrorist attacks at the Pentagon and the World Trade Center. Acts of remembrances by Marines included a memorial service at Camp Lejeune, a 25-mile commemorative march by 2d Battalion, 23d Marines at Camp Pendleton, and the burying of a piece of the WTC on the grounds of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, by members of the 4th MEB (AT) who were serving on guard duty there since its reopening late last fall.
12 September – Marines of the 26th MEU began a 15-day training in an urban environment exercise (TRUEX) in Dayton, Ohio. The Marines executed live-fire precision raids, exercised intelligence and reconnaissance capabilities, conducted aviation operations in urban environments, and refined command element’s rapid response planning process. The Marines also took time to give back to their hosting community by participating in outreach programs.
12 September – Retired Marine Corps Gen Raymond G. Davis, who was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions as Commanding Officer, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines during the withdrawal from the Chosin Reservoir in late 1950, was among the first Americans to be allowed to visit the western side of the reservoir. He was part of a Department of Defense delegation observing a North Korean-U.S. joint recovery operation attempting to locate and retrieve the remains of a number of combat veterans still listed as missing in action.
13 September – The Marine Corps expanded its stop-loss policy to hold onto about 500 Marines needed to guard U.S. bases and stations during the war on terrorism. The new policy allowed commanders to keep any Marine in any military occupation specialty (MOS) they deem necessary and affected those whose end-of-active-service (EAS) date was 15 October or later. The policy allowed commands to keep Marines six months past their EAS.
19 September – Marines from the 24th MEU (SOC) arrived in various areas of southern and eastern Kosovo in support of Operation Dynamic Response. The MEU’s embark section was able to put important skills to work offloading equipment while Marines from Company G, Battalion Landing Team, 2d Battalion, 2d Marines took over for a company of Austrian soldiers in the mountains of the Multi-National Brigade South Area of Operations. Still other members of the 24th MEU (SOC) trained with a group of German military police officers during riot-control training in Prizren, Kosovo.
20 September – Task Force India, comprised mostly from Company I, 3d Battalion, 8th Marines, returned to Camp Lejeune after spending months providing security at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. The Marines were part of the 4th MEB (AT) Battalion and were relieved by Company L, 3d Battalion, 6th Marines.
21 September – Both the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) and Judge Advocate General (JAG) are investigating an incident in which three out of five static-line parachutes failed to deploy after Marines from the Air Delivery Platoon, 2d Transportation Battalion exited a U.S. Air Force C-17 aircraft during training at Camp Lejeune. The operation was aborted. The inspections of the 22 main and 19 reserve parachutes and related equipment that was confiscated from the plane immediately after it landed determined that suspension lines on 13 main parachutes were severed in such a manner that pre-jump inspections would not detect signs of tampering.
1 October – Lieutenant General Hagee’s nomination as 33rd Commandant of the Marine Corps was confirmed by the Senate. He would replace Gen James L. Jones, whose nomination as Chief of U.S. European Command and Supreme Allied Commander Europe was also confirmed.
1 October – The Department of Veterans Affairs doubled its research funding to nearly $20 million into the mysterious symptoms suffered by numerous Gulf War veterans following the 1991 conflict. The VA announced later in the month that the department wanted to examine treatment options and research proposals on the neurological side of Gulf War illness.
2 October – Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 121 (VMFA(AW)-121), the Green Knights, returned to Miramar, California, after a more than five month deployment to Manas, Kyrgyzstan. The Green Knights flew a total of 4,846 hours since 16 April without a single aircraft mishap in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
8 October – Lance Corporal Antonio L. Sledd was killed and LCpl George R. Simpson was wounded when two Kuwaiti nationals in a pickup truck opened fire at Company L, 3d Battalion, 1st Marines, 11th MEU, who were taking a break during the training exercise, Eager Mace. The assailants then drove to another group of Marines and opened fire again. No Marines were injured in the second attack but both Kuwaitis were killed by return fire. The incident occurred on the island of Failaka, 10 miles from the Kuwait mainland, and was labeled as a “terrorist act” by Kuwaiti officials.
16 October – President Bush signed a joint congressional resolution authorizing the use of military force against Iraq if that nation did not comply with U.N. resolutions calling for its elimination of all weapons of mass destruction. The resolution granted the president the most far-reaching authority for the use of military force since the Tonkin Gulf resolution was passed in 1964 allowing the expansion of military operation in Vietnam.
23 October – The President signed the FY03 Defense Appropriations and Military Construction Appropriations act into law. The FY03 budget was $355 billion, an increase of $37 billion over last year. The appropriations act provided a 4.1 percent pay increase for servicemembers, an increase in full-time support positions for the Reserve component, and continued to reduce out-of-pocket housing expenses for servicemembers living off base.
27 October – The 27th Marine Corps Marathon had a record-breaking 18,000 participants. U.S. Air Force Capt Christopher Juarez was the race’s overall winner with a time of 2:25:01 while Elizabeth Scanlon of Alexandria, Virginia, was the first female finisher, crossing the line in 2:57:27. Marines did win the women’s Challenge Cup for only the second time ever by beating their British counterparts by more than 30 minutes.
28 October – The 24th MEU sailed through the Suez Canal on the way to the East African nation of Djibouti as the hunt for Al-Qaida moved into the Horn of Africa region. Approximately 700 to 800 Marines were deployed to Djibouti to prepare for any contingency in the region.
___October – Six AV-8B Harriers from Marine Attack Squadron 513 (VMA–513), based out of Yuma, Arizona, deployed late in the month to Bagram Air Base, north of Kabul. The Harriers deployed in continuing support of operations in Afghanistan but were not part of the 11th MEU(SOC), which also has a detachment from VMA-513 as a part of its aviation combat element.
___November – The 24th MEU participated in Exercise Image Nautilus 03, a combined training exercise with Djibouti local forces. The Marines are not part of Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), but the exercise was designed to strengthen U.S.-Djibouti military relationships and familiarize U.S. personnel with the environment and operational characteristics of Djibouti. The Camp Lejeune based 24th MEU was on a routine six-month deployment.
3 November – A detachment of reservists from the Washington D.C. based 4th Civil Affairs Group (CAG) replaced the 3d CAG from Camp Pendleton in Kosovo. The Marines spent six-months providing support for Task Force Falcon, the U.S. contribution to the NATO-led Operation Joint Guardian. The 4th CAG helped locals resolve disputes, delivered school supplies to needy children and assisted in the repatriation of citizens displaced when Serbian forces invaded the province in 1999
6-11 November – The 20th anniversary of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, better known as The Wall, was commemorated in Washington, DC. The activities included the reading of all 58,229 names that grace the black granite memorial, only the third time such a reading has occurred in the memorial’s history. The reading took 65 hours to complete.
10 November – More than 115 Marines from Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 4 (VMAQ-4) returned to Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina, just in time for the Corps’ 227th birthday. The unit deployed to Saudi Arabia in August for Operation Southern Watch. VMAQ-4 spent three months patrolling the no-fly zone over southern Iraq, flying 905 combat hours and maintaining a mishap-free sortie rate.
11 November – The Navy’s newest Arleigh Burke class destroyer was christened the USS Chafee (DDG 90) after a distinguished Marine who saw combat during World War II and Korea. The destroyer was named in honor of the late Rhode Island Senator John Chafee in Bath, Maine, at the Veteran’s Day ceremony. Sen. Chafee served in the Rhode Island legislature and as governor before serving as the Secretary of the Navy from 1969-1972. He was later elected to the U.S. Senate. He died in 1999.
13 November – The 2003 defense authorization bill was approved and gave the Pentagon the authority to boost the number of personnel on active duty by up to 3 percent. The Marine Corps was allowed one more lieutenant general, 40 more colonels, and was allowed to have six deputy commandants, one more than previously authorized. The Navy Secretary’s title, however, will not expand to Secretary of the Navy and Marine Corps as was proposed earlier this year.
13 November – The command element for a Marine-led task force (CJTF-HOA) against terrorism in the Horn of Africa departed for Djibouti. The task force was
led by MajGen John Sattler, commander of 2d Marine Division from Camp Lejeune, and had no scheduled return date. The command element linked up with U.S. forces already in the region to help disrupt terrorist cells that traditionally use the region as a transit route.
14 November – Less than a month after deploying to Afghanistan, an AV-8B Harrier from VMA-513 joined an Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt attack jet in engaging enemy forces during a firefight near a U.S. special-operations base near Lwara. The attack was the second of two firefights that occurred overnight.
15 November – Lieutenant General James T. Conway took command of the I MEF at a ceremony at Camp Pendleton. He relieved LtGen Michael W. Hagee who was slated to become Commandant of the Marine Corps in January. Conway came to I MEF from the U.S. Marine Corps Forces Central Command, where he served as deputy commander since August.
21 November – The headquarters element of the I MEF deployed to the Middle East from Camp Pendleton in preparation for a possible war with Iraq. The headquarters element included several hundred planners and commanders whose job was to prepare for the movement of 1st MEF’s troops, aircraft, supplies and equipment in the region. LtGen James T. Conway, who took command of the 1st MEF only a week before the deployment, was among the departing troops. A small contingent of Marines from the 3d Marine Air Wing and support units from Marine Corps Air Station Miramar also deployed with the headquarters element.
25 November – The 15th MEU earned its Special Operations Capable certification after wrapping up its final exercises. SOCEX was the final exercise in the MEU’s six-moth work-ups for a planned deployment to the Middle East in January. The Marines staged a noncombatant evacuation, direct-action raids, and a simulated humanitarian-service operation while working from the amphibious assault ship Tarawa off the coast near Camp Pendleton.
___ December – Major U.S. exercises were underway in the Persian Gulf as troops massed in the region while the U.N. analyzed Iraqi weapons documents and the possibility of war against Iraq became more likely. Numerous Marine units deployed throughout the month to support any actions taken.
13 December – The Department of Defense announced its plan to reinstate the Smallpox Vaccination Program for some members of the armed forces based on their occupational specialty. The military stopped routine smallpox vaccinations in 1990 but in the wake of the 11 September terrorist attacks and the anthrax letter attacks, DoD reassessed the overall potential to use smallpox as a biological weapon.
13 December – Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island renamed the depot headquarters building in honor of the 27th Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Robert H. Barrow. The retired general was on hand for the dedication ceremony; an unusual occurrence since most Marine Corps Commemorative namings honor deceased servicemen and women. Gen Barrow served 41 years in the Corps, including combat tours in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, and was the first commandant to be a full-fledged member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
14 December – The 11th MEU returned to Camp Pendleton as the six-month deployment of the Belleau Wood ARG came to an end. The unit did not see combat as many expected but did suffer the loss of three Marines. Lance Cpl Antonio Sledd was killed in a terrorist attack in Kuwait in which another Marine was also wounded, another Marine was presumed dead after he apparently fell from the flight deck of the USS Belleau Wood on 2 December, and another Marine died from an apparent suicide.
14 December – Two Texas-based reinforced platoons from 1st Battalion, 23rd Marines returned home after being deployed in March to Guantanamo Bay to provide base security. The use of reservists in such a capacity relieved active-duty Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Team (FAST) platoons, who normally would guard the base, to be used elsewhere in the ongoing war on terrorism.
15 December – The Marine Corps took over the training of troops from the former Soviet republic of Georgia from the Army Special Forces units after the graduation of the first class. The Marine-led joint training team of about 60 troops picked up the next class that began February 2003. The Georgia Train and Equip Program commenced in May under Special Operations Command, Europe.
19 December – Physical training resumed after being suspended for three days at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego after 126 recruits and instructors had been hospitalized with pneumonia or strep A. Private Miguel Zavala died 15 December from a bacterial infection that was initially suspected to be strep A. Recruits, instructors, and other staff members were given throat cultures and antibiotics to help stem the spread of the outbreak immediately following Pvt Zavala’s death. An unrelated bacterial infection was later determined to be the cause.
23 December – The Marine Corps formed a new 86-man commando unit. The Marine Corps Special Operations Command Detachment has no official nickname as of yet and consists of volunteers. It has a 22-man headquarters, 30 reconnaissance Marines, 28 intelligence specialists, and a 6-person team to provide firepower. The unit will begin training in June 2003 and be ready for deployments by April 2004.
27 December – Nearly 700 Marines with the 2d Force Service Support Group (2d FSSG) deployed from Camp Lejeune to provide real-world operational logistics for Operation Enduring Freedom. Their ultimate destination was not disclosed but it was indicated the unit was headed for the Middle East or the Mediterranean Sea region.
30 December – The headquarters element of CJTF-HOA hosted military commanders and dignitaries from Djibouti onboard the amphibious assault ship Mount Whitney in the Gulf of Aden to increase foreign cooperation for their task of curbing terrorist activities in the Horn of Africa. The ship arrived in the region on 12 December.
31 December – The strength of the U.S. Armed Forces was 1,449,690 of whom 174,018 were U.S. Marines.
USMC History Division